Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
Writing an e-zine that works
I sent out my first e-newsletter (commonly called an e-zine) this month. But before doing so I decided I needed to do some research. First I visited the Internet and typed in ''how to write an e-zine''. I found a heap of information on e-zines, but nothing about how to write one. I could've kept looking, but I gave up and instead had a close look at the e-zines I receive and talked to people who write them.
I discovered that an e-zine is mainly used as a marketing tool and also as a means of providing information. The ABN's newsletter is a good example of both - it provides informative articles and promotes events.
Another successful e-zine is written by Robert Gerrish, a business coach for people going it alone in business. He sent out his first e-zine in 1998 - to 14 people. He now has a database of over 2,500 subscribers and gets most of his business through his e-zine. At first his e-zine was intermittent, but it is now monthly and has a dedicated website (www.flyingsolo.com.au).
Another company I talked to treats the people in its database like members. They don't put their e-zine on their website or provide copies of back issues. Their rationale is that people will read it then and there if it's not on the web. And for them it works - their membership is growing and they're attracting new business.
But while an e-zine can boost your business, there's a risk. It's very easy for people to unsubscribe and so for you to lose a client or potential client.
So what makes a successful e-zine?
Short and to the point
It must be short. Many people are deluged by emails these days so if yours is too long they may leave it until later and then forget about it.
E-zines are like a press release in that you need to get your main message across upfront. That applies to your subject heading too, which should be short and attention grabbing or direct and to the point - for example, the name of your e-zine and the issue number.
As with all promotional material, your e-zine must have benefits for the reader and grab their attention. As well as providing information, many e-zines give tips and reviews of other websites. I personally have discovered some great websites through the e-zines I subscribe to.
The word ''free'' is always a drawcard - just don't use it in your subject line. Some spam-blocking software eliminates emails with the word ''free'' in the heading.
Many e-zines, although brief, start with a table of contents. Most e-zines are broken up into small blocks of text, though one e-zine I receive is just an editorial with tips at the end.
In his article on writing internet direct mail, Robert Bly (www.bly.com) quotes John Wright of Internet marketing services firm MediaSynergy, who says that if you put multiple response links within your e-mail message, 95 per cent of click-through responses will come from the first two. He suggests you limit the number of click-through links to three unless you have a series of small items each with their own link.
You won't personally know everyone on your database, however keep the tone helpful, friendly, informative and educational. An e-zine is not the place for promotional hype or hard sell.
Regular and consistent
If you do decide to write an e-zine, you need to make sure the standard is consistent and that you produce it regularly.
The greatest crime is to be longwinded and boring. One company I talked to said one issue of their e-zine that was not up to their usual standard resulted in the greatest number of ''unsubscibes'' ever... It wasn't controversial, just boring.
It's a hard ask to be consistently good, but with an e-zine that's the challenge. Having written my first one, I'm still enthusiastic and enjoying that challenge.
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